In this year's Outdoors category, sponsored by Wiggle, we reveal the winners of the Best Drone, Best Waterproof Jacket, Best Action Camera, Best Tent, Best Hiking Boots and Best Walking shoes in the T3 Awards 2021.
This category is dedicated to celebrating the products that'll help you get out and about in the wild. The difficulties of foreign travel, coupled with social distancing rules, mean that more and more people have been enjoying what nature has to offer this year, and we've seen a big boom in the popularity of camping and adventure activities.
Brands have responded by offering up some truly excellent new products, with notable innovations geared towards comfort, performance and eco-friendliness. So let's get on and reveal the big T3 Awards 2021 winners in the Outdoor category.
Best Drone: DJI Air 2S
When the DJI Air 2S launched in April 2021, it soared straight to the top of our best drone ranking. Despite a moniker that suggested minimal updates over its predecessor, what DJI actually released changed the game completely. It might look very similar to the Mavic Air 2, but the Air 2S packs a full 1-inch CMOS sensor – the smallest folding drone to do so – putting it in a completely different league when it comes to shooting capabilities. It'll capture pristine video and pin-sharp stills, and the larger sensor also provides noticeably more detail and less noise when in low light conditions.
The camera is the star, but the drone is also laden with some incredible in-flight features, from its four-sided sensors that help you dodge obstacles not just either side of the drone but above and below it too, to an upgraded Spotlight 2.0 mode for capturing incredible cinematic shots, to the most advanced and intelligent autonomous flight feature we've seen yet – MasterShots. Oh and it's also light, compact, quiet and flies beautifully.
All of that adds up to a done that's nigh-on perfect, in our eyes, making the DJI Air 2S the clear winner of this year's Best Drone Award in the T3 Awards 2021.
The Best Drone shortlist
DJI Air 2S
DJI Mini 2
PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard
- Too pricey? Here are the best cheap drones to buy now
Best Action Camera: GoPro Hero 9 Black
In the action camera world there's still one undisputed champion, and that's GoPro. With this year's new offering, the Hero 9 Black, GoPro has managed to outdo itself yet again. The big news here is the addition of a full-colour, front-facing 'selfie' screen – a feature that vloggers have been hankering after from some time, and opens up the possibility of properly-framed direct-to-camera moments.
Another standout addition is the new baked-in horizon levelling technology, which makes a massive difference to the smoothness of video captured on-the-move, on your mountain bike or surfboard, for instance.
GoPro has brought back the removable lens cover, in Gorilla Glass, enabling you to not only replace scratched lenses but also sub in the Max Lens mod, one of many cool new Mods released with this update, which delivers a 155-degree field of view.
A big bump in sensor resolution means even better quality video and stills, and upgraded Hypersmooth and Timewarp functions let users get truly creative with their shots. Less exciting but perhaps even more welcome is the bigger battery, adding a claimed 30% more battery life.
While the titchy-but-powerful thumb-sized Insta360 GO 2 also caught our eye this year, for pure action credentials, GoPro can't be beat. Not only is it the best GoPro around, it's also the best action camera you can buy now, and a worthy winner of this year's T3 Award.
Best Action Camera shortlist
Insta360 GO 2
GoPro HERO 9 Black
GoPro HERO 8 Black
DJI Osmo Action
Best Hiking Boots: Jack Wolfskin Wilderness Lite Mid
Tackling tough terrain or slippery trails requires some robust walking boots, and every year we see (and test out) innovative new entries in this market. While Scarpa, Inov-8, Vivobarefoot, Arc'teryx and Hoka One One all impressed us with their boots, this year's T3 Award for Best Hiking Boot goes to Jack Wolfskin's Wilderness Lite.
These technical boots deliver everything we want on a mountain adventure. Designed with scrambling, via ferrata, and going hut-to-hut in mind, they boast grippy Vibram soles that perform extremely well even in wet conditions. The sturdy toe box ensures your feet are protected on rough terrain, and the lacing system keeps them snugly and reliably in place all day. There's no Gore-Tex, but Jack Wolfskin's own-brand TEXAPORE O2+ membrane kept our tester's feet reliably dry and warm, even in driving rain (head to our Jack Wolfskin's Wilderness Lite review for the full low-down).
If you need something more summer-weight or less technical, our guides to the best men's hiking boots and the best women's hiking boots will provide you with plenty of alternative options. But for alpine terrain and demanding day hikes, the Wilderness Lite is a top choice, and a deserving winner of the T3 Awards 2021 Best Hiking Boot title.
Best Hiking Boots shortlist
Inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX
Arc'teryx Acrux TR GTX
Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX hiking boots
Jack Wolfskin Wilderness Lite
Scarpa R-Evo GTX
Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC
Best Walking Shoes: Salomon X Ultra 4
This year, there was a clear standout for us in the walking shoe category: the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX. The clever design combines the comfort and nimbleness of a rail runner with the added protection and stability of a walking shoe, making them an excellent choice for anyone who values flexibility and speed in their hiking footwear.
We tested both the men's and the women's versions and both of our reviewers were blown away by the performance of this hybrid trekking titan (head to our Salomon X Ultra 4 men's and Salomon X Ultra 4 women's reviews for more). To tackle the issue of the relative lack of ankle support when compared to boots, Salomon has added a ADV-C Chassis designed to optimise stability without limiting mobility. Activesupport ‘wings’ connecting the lacing system to the chassis offer even more stability without too much bulk or weight.
The carefully honed balance of foot protection, light weight, stability and decent cushioning means the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX snap up the T3 Award 2021 for Best Walking Shoe.
Best Walking Shoes shortlist
Merrell MQM Flex 2 GTX
Inov-8 Roclite 315 GTX
Salomon X Ultra 4
Columbia Trailstorm Waterproof walking shoe
Best Waterproof Jacket: Finisterre Stormbird
In the UK at least, 2021's springtime weather was not kind to us. While it wouldn't be our ideal attire for the entirety of May, throwing on one of the best waterproof jackets did make things that much more bearable, and Finisterre brought us an absolutely excellent one.
On the performance front, this triple-layered jacket promises high and delivers. A 20k hydrostatic head and a breathability rating of 15K mean this jacket performs that trick of keeping the water out but letting the air in, incredibly well. That means you won't find yourself getting sweaty and uncomfortable if you decide to don this for a muggy, wet-weather hike.
If you're faced with blustery winds as well as rain, Finisterre has you covered there too. There are plenty of places to adjust the jacket for a snug fit to your body, and the curved peak hood will stay up and keep the rain out of your eyes even if it's blowing a gale. It's super comfy, too. In our Finisterre Stormbird review our tester highlighted the soft-touch bushed inner, and the neck guard's snuggly micro-fleece lining. Finally – and we'd expect nothing less from Finisterre – the Stormbird is admirably planet-friendly. It's made from 100% recycled fabrics and has an FC-Free DWR finish.
While it's a hard-fought category, all this means the Finisterre Stormbird snaps up the 2021 T3 Award for Best Waterproof Jacket.
- Buy Finisterre Stormbird (men's) – £195 from Finisterre
- Buy Finisterre Stormbird (women's) – £195 from Finisterre
The Best Waterproof Jacket shortlist
Berghaus Sky Hiker
Jack Wolfskin Eagle Peak
Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity Shell Jacket
- How to waterproof a jacket, plus top tips for jacket care
Best Tent: Sierra Designs Meteor Lite 2
Camping is all the rage right now, and we've been busy testing out the best tents and to see you right on this summer's staycation. While what you go for will depend on the kind of trip you're using it for, one major standout is the Meteor Lite 2 from Sierra Designs.
For our money the best backpacking tent around at the moment, the Meteor Lite 2 is lightweight yet still roomy when pitched, with a generous porch on either side offering space to stash your cooking equipment and hiking boots. There are also some slightly more frivolous features that enamoured us to this design in particular – namely the fact you can remove the outer waterproof fly, either partly or completely, to reveal the mesh inner walls. Ideal for balmy weather or stargazing on clear nights. Colour-coded tabs make pitching ultra-simple, and a burrito-style carry bag means packing up in the mornings is similarly straightforward and stress-free.
After several months of testing (head to our Sierra Design Meteor Lite 2 tent review for a full run-down), this tent has impressed our tester on every trip, which is why we're crowning it the winner of the T3 Award 2021 for Best Tent.
For even more winners be sure to check out the T3 Awards 2021 hub page, which is stuffed full of this year's top tech, gadgets and products.
The Best Tent shortlist
Sierra Designs Meteor Lite 2
Vango Joro 450 tent
Coleman Meadowood BlackOut
Vango F10 Project Hydrogen
Lichfield Eagle Air 6
Best Camera: Canon EOS R6
The Canon EOS R6 is one of a duo of recently-announced full-frame mirrorless cameras from one of the biggest names in photography. It represents a coming-of-age for the EOS R system and shows off what this heritage company really is capable of when it puts its mind to it.
You get great image quality, superb autofocusing and fast frame rates. It offers a lot of best-in-class capabilities. Overall, there’s a lot to like about the Canon EOS R6, and it’s great to see Canon really getting itself into gear when it comes to full-frame mirrorless options – especially after a little bit of a lacklustre start with the Canon EOS R, it feels like the system has finally come into its own with the R5 and the R6.
Ultimately, it produces great images, and is extremely impressive when it comes to fast frame rates, super quick autofocusing and Eye AF. We think it's the ultimate camera around.
The Best Camera shortlist
Highly Commended: Fujifilm X-E4
Canon EOS R6
Panasonic Lumix S5
- See all the T3 Awards 2021 winners